Android could use a 4-inch iPhone SE competitor


You may or may not have heard about the news that surfaced earlier today of the brand new Moto G – all three of them. Yep, this year Lenovo decided to go all out with the Moto G and provide three different models. Why? As Vlad Savov from The Verge accurately put it, “Because it has no idea what we want.” And from a consumer standpoint, that’s exactly what it looks like.

It kind of seems like the direction that every manufacturer is going in, though. Many companies already offer two models of one device, and now some, like Lenovo, are offering three. It’s not necessarily a bad move if you’re trying to cater to every potential user’s preferences.

Another company that offers three variants of one smartphone is Apple. The Apple iPhone comes in three sizes with the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus. And if Apple is doing it, nobody should be surprised when others follow.

Apple did a good thing with the SE by making it the compact device that Apple fans wanted to see while maintaining flagship status, as the SE is nearly identical to the iPhone 6s in specs. Combining these two factors is a big reason why the iPhone SE received such a positive reaction.

But I think the other contributing factor is the fact that nobody else has a phone that small anymore. Not on the low, middle, or high end of the spectrum. Most phones that are worth their salt now range between 4.6 to 5.5-inch displays. And I think the Moto G could have cashed in on this for Android users, but for some reason didn’t despite having three models to choose from. The Moto G, a mid-range Android, started off at a modest 4.5-inch display in 2013, but the screen size has increased over the past few years to the point where two of the newest Moto G devices have 5.5-inch displays; the entry-level Moto G Play has a 5-inch display. The biggest differences between the new Moto G models are specs rather than size.

It’s been speculated that Lenovo took the path(s) that it did for the Moto G this year due to the fact that between the the original Moto G debut and now, the market for $200 smartphones that worked so well in the Moto G’s favor has now become extremely competitive. Without all of these options, it’s possible that the Moto G would blend in somewhere in the background – precisely where no company wants a product to be. The three new Moto G’s may turn heads for consumers, but I think Lenovo could have done better by coming out with a competitor, at least in size, to the iPhone SE. Perhaps something along the lines of where the Moto G started back in 2013 with the 4.5-inch display.

Then again, perhaps the Moto G isn’t the best candidate to pit against the iPhone SE. The SE is more than just a small phone, it’s a small, powerful phone. The Moto G, on the other hand, has always been more modest. However, this new lineup of Moto Gs suggest that Lenovo is not opposed to making the Moto G more powerful. Unfortunately, they also decided to make the phone larger and also more expensive.

There are plenty of well-established Android manufacturers that should feasibly be able to create an iPhone SE competitor. The closest thing out there right now is the Xperia Z5 Compact, which still measures 0.6-inches larger than the SE, and a mere 0.1-inch smaller than the iPhone 6s. A true competitor would need to get as close to a 4-inch display as it could. A 4.3-inch display would probably be an acceptable compromise.

Either way, I hope that an Android competitor to the SE surfaces soon. While the iPhone SE is a great phone and a solid option for people who want a good phone that’s optimized for one-handed use, it’s also the only option. And if we are heading into an era when three different variants of the same phone are offered, it would make sense to include three different sizes as one of those differentiating factors.

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